Latest on the US DOE and Funding Projects, Getting a Handle on Twitter and Musk’s Other Businesses

Now that nearly all U.S. states (45 of them) offer incentives for battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, we’re not dependent on support merely from Washington, D.C. Having said that, everyone should have a handle on what the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) has to offer. Here’s an overview — perhaps best named “DOE 101,” featuring a list of DOE segments that clean transportation stakeholders need to be familiar with; plus a fascinating look at state incentives for electrified transportation. DOE is well funded under the current administration, with many inspiring research projects moving forward. 

And the latest:  GM partnership on advanced batteries General Motors and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microvast Holdings, Inc., were selected by DOE to receive a $200 million grant through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will fund a new separator facility to supply battery components. It was one of 20 companies and partnerships to receive grant funding from DOE’s $2.8 billion available. With existing operations in Tennessee, Florida, Colorado, and Texas, the company was thrilled to enhance its vertical integration strategy by expanding its domestic footprint and production capabilities to include battery components. Its highly thermally stable polyaramid separators will transform high-energy lithium-ion battery development and drive significant value for the industry, the company said. Microvast expects the new separator facility to supply battery components to its existing battery cell manufacturing facility in Clarksville, Tenn., as well as other customers across the commercial, specialty, and passenger electric vehicle (EV) markets, energy storage systems (ESS) and other applications.

Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)  The ARPA-E advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment. ARPA-E awardees are unique because they are developing entirely new ways to generate, store, and use energy. ARPA-E empowers America’s energy researchers with funding, streamlined awards process, technical assistance, and market readiness through a rigorous program design, competitive project selection process, and active program management ensure thoughtful expenditures. 

And the latest:  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) late last month announced $39 million in funding for 16 projects across 12 states to develop market-ready technologies that will increase domestic supplies of critical elements required for the clean energy transition. The selected projects, led by universities, national laboratories, and the private sector aim to develop commercially scalable technologies that will enable greater domestic supplies of copper, nickel, lithium, cobalt, rare earth elements, and other critical elements. The Biden-Harris Administration has remained focused on strengthening the critical materials supply chain as rare-earth elements are necessary to manufacture several clean energy technologies—from electric vehicle batteries to wind turbines and solar panels. President Biden has underscored the importance of deploying energy sources that reduce carbon pollution, lower costs for families and businesses, and ultimately mitigate the impacts of climate change.  

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs:  The SBIR/STTR programs are U.S. government programs, intended to help certain small businesses conduct Research and Development (R&D). The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SBIR/STTR programs provide grant opportunities to small businesses performing R&D in support of the DOE mission.  Grants are competitively awarded for the development and commercialization of new ideas and innovative research. 

And the latest:  On Oct. 26, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $3,169,239 in funding to eight small businesses to further develop and commercialize their environmental technologies, delivering economic and environmental benefits to the communities they serve. Awarded projects include an air purifier that reduces the risk of transmitting viruses and bacteria, a forecasting tool that reduces unwanted pesticide drift, software technologies for improved recycling, and a process for producing a sustainable low- carbon building material.

Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE):  Funding, Prize, and Competition Opportunities. Come to the site to see current open EERE funding opportunities; visit EERE Exchange to see past opportunities. EERE primarily supports research and development (R&D) on energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

Late last month, the EPA announced $3,169,239 in funding to eight small businesses to further develop and commercialize their environmental technologies, delivering economic and environmental benefits to the communities they serve. Awarded projects include an air purifier that reduces the risk of transmitting viruses and bacteria, a forecasting tool that reduces unwanted pesticide drift, software technologies for improved recycling, and a process for producing a sustainable low- carbon building material.

Clean Cities Coalition Network:  Connect with Clean Cities’ national network of local coalitions and stakeholders working to implement alternative fuels, advanced vehicles, and fuel-saving strategies. The Clean Cities Coalition Network is a coordinated group of nearly 100 coalitions in the US working in communities across the country to advance affordable, domestic transportation fuels, energy efficient mobility systems, and other fuel-saving technologies and practices.

Bionergy Technologies Office: The U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) supports research, development, and demonstration to enable the sustainable use of domestic biomass and waste resources for the production of biofuels and bioproducts. 

2022–2023 AlgaePrize Competition: Launched in January 2022, the AlgaePrize is a new competition from DOE BETO that encourages students to pursue innovative ideas for the development, design, and invention of technologies within the commercial algae value chain. Learn more about this student competition.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge: The U.S. Department of Energy is working with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other federal government agencies to develop a comprehensive strategy for scaling up new technologies to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on a commercial scale. Learn more about the SAF Grand Challenge and BETO’s SAF R&D.

Sustainable Aviation Fuels: BETO empowers energy companies and aviation stakeholders by supporting advances in research, development, and demonstration to overcome barriers for widespread deployment of low-carbon sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). SAF made from renewable biomass and waste resources have the potential to deliver the performance of petroleum-based jet fuel but with a fraction of its carbon footprint, giving airlines solid footing for decoupling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from flight. The U.S. Department of Energy is working with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other federal government agencies to develop a comprehensive strategy for scaling up new technologies to produce SAF on a commercial scale.

Vehicle Technologies Office The DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office provides low cost, secure, and clean energy technologies to move people and goods across America. Technology areas include batteries, charging, and electric vehicles; energy efficient mobility systems; advanced engine and fuels technologies; lightweight and propulsion materials; technology integration; and reports and publications. 

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) focuses on research, development, and demonstration of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies across multiple sectors enabling innovation, a strong domestic economy, and a clean, equitable energy future. Clean energy sources such as hydrogen help combat climate change by addressing industrial emissions that are often hard to decarbonize. And, it can be produced from a variety of clean energy sources including renewables and nuclear.

Office of Science Laboratories. The National Laboratories have served as the leading institutions for scientific innovation in the United States for more than seventy years. The Energy Department’s 17 National Labs tackle the critical scientific challenges of our time — from combating climate change to discovering the origins of our universe — and possess unique instruments and facilities, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. They address large scale, complex research and development challenges with a multidisciplinary approach that places an emphasis on translating basic science to innovation.

Argonne National Laboratory For clean transportation stakeholders, Argonne is a very significant test center. Projects have included electric vehicle testing, and alternative fuel vehicle, hybrid electric, and plug-in hybrid testing. Measuring energy use and emissions output for a wide variety of vehicle and fuel combinations are among the top issues studied at the test center. Analysis of transportation systems on a life-cycle basis permits the research staff to better understand the breadth and magnitude of impacts produced when vehicle systems are operated on different fuels or energy options like electricity or hydrogen. Such detailed analysis also provides the granularity needed to investigate policy implications, set R&D goals, and perform follow-on impact and policy assessments. With the support of several programs within the US Department Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Systems Assessment Group in Argonne’s Energy Systems and Infrastructure Analysis division has been developing the GREET (Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation) model to provide a common, transparent platform for lifecycle analysis (LCA) of alternative combinations of vehicle and fuel technologies.

Plus, another resource: state offerings on hybrids and EVs. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) offers this database: 

NCSL — State Policies Promoting Hybrid and Electric Vehicles Forty-five states and the District of Columbia provide an incentive for certain EVs and/or PHEVs, either through a specific utility operating in the state or through state legislation. The incentives range from tax credits or rebates to fleet acquisition goals, exemptions from emissions testing, or utility time-of-use rate reductions. 

And in other news

Twitter purchase: New Twitter owner Elon Musk has pulled more than 50 of his trusted Tesla employees, mostly software engineers from the Autopilot team, into his Twitter takeover, according to CNBC. He also brought in two employees from his Boring Company (underground tunnels) and one from SpaceX’s Neuralink business.  Musk fired top executives from the social media company. Musk’s Tesla had a solid quarter of earnings last month but now the company says it won’t be able to reach a full 50% growth rate from the 936,000 units it delivered in 2021. In breaking news, Tesla will be opening what’s being called a “unique EV research, testing, repair, and maintenance facility” in Southfield, Mich. 

BYD working with Toyota, reports big profit gain: Toyota Motor Corp announced the launch of a small electric sedan, which will be powered by BYD’s batteries and will be produced and sold in China. The Japanese automaker said the car would be called the Toyota bZ3. It did not say when the vehicle will be available in showrooms. Last month, BYD reported that net income for Q3 2022 could jump 365% versus Q3 2021. BYD’s strong results worked against China’s economy and strengthened the strong image the automaker is gaining. 

Big fleets converting over to EVs: Amazon, FedEx, and other big fleet operators, are moving fast to replace their huge fleets of gasoline- and diesel-powered delivery trucks with electric vehicles. It’s a win for the environment, but these sizable fleets have to installing lots of chargers and work on charging up when electricity rates are cheap.

Lucid Air lineup will be added to on Nov. 15: The Lucid startup electric vehicle company will be unveiling more of its Lucid Air lineup on November 15 at the Lucid Studio Beverly Hills. That will complete the Air luxury sedan lineup with the Air Pure and Air Touring being the newest ones. The online global launch will also show off the Grand Touring, Grand Touring Performance, and the Sapphire-The Dream Edition. 

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